Oh, I dislike that word. Journey. It feels like I’m on The Bachelor or Masterchef talking about my “journey”. But that’s what it is. A journey.
If you had known me 5 to 6 years ago, you would’ve thought I was a different person. I loved to shop. It was a destructive type of love. I would go shopping during my lunch breaks, after work and on the weekends. Then online shopping was a thing (perfect for an introvert like me!) and I spent hours and hours online, and had multiple packages sent to my home every week. I was also in a lot of debt, way too much for someone so young. I spent everything I had on clothes, and even skimped out on food so I could buy a dress or a pair of shoes with the last remaining dollars of my credit limit. It was stupid, I’m not kidding myself. I was terrible with money. But also, I was really unhappy with myself and thought pretty clothes or expensive shoes would make me feel better. My self-esteem is still something I have to work through and being an extreme introvert, it’s a constant battle. But I’m miles away from the person I used to be.
Didn’t Joan Didion say it best?
“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be…”
I don’t think changing is a bad thing. People often tell me that I’ve changed a lot. I’m less angry, less self-involved, more caring – perhaps a sight dig at my former self – how did I even have friends? But, I truly feel as if I’m becoming a better person. And I know, I’m not the best person. I could be better. As someone who used to be spoiled, self-centred and had incredibly low self-esteem – well, I’m just not that person anymore.
But how did it all start?
It’s kinda funny how it all begun. This journey of minimalism (kinda) and low waste (ish-ness). Who would have thought that a overflowing closet was the catalyst to my change, to my improvement?
It seems odd that minimising a closet could have such an effect. Yet, it made me reevaluate what I had and why I was spending the way I was. Without this evaluation, I probably wouldn’t have changed. Sure, my closet would be empty, but in time it would have reverted back. And I would still be left with a truck load of debt and a shopping habit I couldn’t afford.
It took a year to downsize my closet. I had over 100 pairs of shoes and my huge closet was so full that I used my parents’ spare room to store my extra clothes. I had clothes with their tags still on them, clothes that didn’t fit because I wanted to lose weight, clothes for that special occasion that never came. I had clothes I bought purely for the fantasy that I could be that girl who wore that dress or that top or that skirt. But, I wasn’t that girl!
And the decluttering begins.
I remember the first day so clearly. I had bought a new top which was sleeveless and had a galaxy print on it (I know). I tried finding room in my closet and noticed a slight bend in the rack. I had packed my clothes so tightly that the rack was starting to buckle underneath its weight. And I tell ya, my closet was huge and the rack was made of metal. At the time, I was newly unemployed and getting further into debt. My spending habits hadn’t changed even though I no longer had a job. I told ya, I was incredibly stupid with my money!
I had a donation bag for kerbside collection and started to fill it up – mostly because I didn’t want a broken rack! It took about 15 mins to fill up the bag. Surprisingly quick for clothes I was willing to go into debt for. So, I gave myself a break from shopping. It was the first time in a very long time where I didn’t spend my week online browsing for clothes or shoes. A week isn’t long I know, but it was at the time. And I realised a couple of things during that week, I shopped when I was sad, and oh boy, was I sad.
Over the next year, I reduced my closet by 90% and stayed away from retail shops and used apps to block certain websites on my phone and laptop. I even minimised my possessions by half. I got a job and for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t spend my wage on clothes, shoes or pointless stuff. I sold what I could and donated the rest. (Any type of junk was thrown away – unfortunately). I paid off my credit card, learnt how to cook so I could pack my lunches to work and I actually started to save for the first time in my life. I even went part-time in my fancy job after saving some money.
This doesn’t mean I’m great with money. I’m not. Or that I don’t buy something that I shouldn’t. I still do. But I’m a lot more conscious with my spending, and now I prefer to spend money on the people I love or travel, rather than on material possessions.
Once I reduced the amount of things I owned and paid off my consumer debt, which took about a year, I started to buy “stuff” again. This time, I was a lot more conscious of what I was buying. And because I was more conscious, I started to care about who made my clothes. It was a domino effect, because I cared I started to become aware of the environmental impacts of fast fashion. (Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything I own is now ethical or environmentally friendly. But I do avoid fast fashion outlets like H&M and try and not buy synthetic fabrics like polyester).
That’s how it started.
It’s honestly hard to explain a “journey” that took over 5 years to get to. It’s much longer than a blog post! But it started with my closet. It started with assessing why I was spending the way that I did. It started because I was tired of being unhappy. Yeah, it started because I was selfish and wanted to be better.
Getting rid of everything you own won’t fix a thing. You’ll be left unhappy AND with no clothes on your back. Instead, being conscious with your purchases can help assess what really is going on.
That’s how it started.
No, really that’s it.
Why are you still reading?